Get tested — or get out.
The city Department of Education posted an internal rule Friday for members of the United Federation of Teachers, warning that those who refuse to be tested for COVID-19 in school will be put on leave and taken off the payroll.
“UFT members who don’t consent to testing within one week of returning to their buildings will be placed on Leave Without Pay,” says the rule, obtained by The Post.
It added in reference to non-UFT school workers, “Guidance regarding other staff members who do not consent will be forthcoming.”
The staffers will not be allowed to submit COVID-19 test results from a private doctor or other health care provider, the DOE decreed.
After closing all schools on Nov. 18 for two and a half weeks due to rising coronavirus cases, Mayor de Blasio ordered a reopening Monday for pre-K, K-5 and students with disabilities — about 190,000 kids in all.
De Blasio also ordered random in-school testing of 20% of staff and students weekly. Previously, the testing was 10% to 20% monthly.
Students who attend in-person classes also must be tested. Pre-K students are exempt, but kids in grades K to 5 have to bring parental consent forms on Monday. Those without parental consent or a valid excuse will be moved to all-remote instruction, de Blasio said.
Under a revision issued Friday, parents of students with disabilities may get permission to take their children for testing by outside doctors, thus allowing the parents to be present. But the kids still have to get tested.
The UFT — which represents nearly 200,000 members, including 75,000 teachers and 19,000 classroom aides — agreed to mandatory testing before schools reopened in late September.
But some teachers have complained that the staff testing, as conducted before, was not mandatory or even random, but self-selective. When city testers visited, staffers were invited to take a test if they wanted one.
“It’s ridiculous that they’re informing us of a rule we agreed to months ago,” said Arthur Goldstein, a teacher and UFT leader at Francis Lewis HS in Queens. “It’s them who haven’t enforced it.”
DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said in a statement, “Testing is a necessary component of keeping our schools safe and we developed this plan in conjunction with the teacher’s union. There is no reason for staff to not participate in testing: it is quick and easy, and all school-based staff will be required to participate.”
But Michael Kane, who formed the group “NY Teachers for Choice,” called the threat to withhold pay “illegal and coercive.” The group has a 12-member steering committee of union members statewide, and a “rapidly growing” email list of 100 teachers and parents, he said.
Kane said some oppose mandatory testing for various reasons. He is against it because the city has refused to release all the contracts with laboratories that conduct and analyze the tests.
NYC’s Health+Hospitals Corp. has not released its “Specimen Collection Agreement” with Fulgent Genetics, the main laboratory, only a statement that officials said constitutes the agreement. The city has released agreements with two other labs involved in the testing.
“Fulgent Genetics owns a library of genetic information that it can use for profit. I want to ensure that my specimen is protected from ending up in that library,” Kane said.
Both the DOE and Fulgent have denied that specimens collected in city schools will be used for anything other than COVID-19 testing.
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